Many adults will face the challenge of balancing work and family life at some point. There are pressures to get ahead at work and succeed in your career path while also staying on top of chores, parenting duties, and self-care at home. We’ve put together some resources and tips to help anyone that is facing this challenge. Trying to succeed in the workplace and maintain an organized home with strong familial relationships can seem like a daunting responsibility, but it’s not impossible. Read through our tips and strategies for improving this balance and see what changes you can make today to help improve your life.
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Why is it so challenging to balance work and family life?
The workplace has gone through some serious shifts in the last few decades with the huge technological changes and which industries are growing and which are shrinking. Now, it’s easy to get in touch with anyone with just a few clicks, but where is the line? Workers today are constantly struggling with balancing work and family life and how to keep some division between the two for mental health and good work-life balance.
Employers should help with the solution.
Challenges exist for both employers and employees. On the one hand, employers love the idea that they can have full-time people available and on call anytime. But they also want a workforce that enjoys being part of the company culture and isn’t experiencing burnout from crazy work hours. A lower turnover and higher retention rate will save companies a lot of money over time, plus they will enjoy valuable employee mindshare if employees have a longer tenure.
To prevent employees from burnout, companies must start by evaluating their expectations of employees and ensuring that all managers are aligned with the company values. It’s about prioritizing job satisfaction and the well-being of employees. The amount of paid time off is a big indicator of how much a company focuses on balance. Employees should be encouraged to step away and take time for personal things without constantly being worried that they are missing something important at the office.
Flexibility doesn’t always mean balance.
With such a large shift to hybrid and remote work teams, there must still be conversations with the leadership teams and the employees on expectations and how much time each person is working. If you work remotely but are expected to be available on your Slack channel for 13 hours a day, it doesn’t provide the flexibility and balance you’re looking for to have a personal life. Make sure to understand what your company expects for availability and response time, so you know if it’s okay to step away and do school pick-up in the afternoon or something similar.
12 Keys to Balancing Work and Family Life
Balancing work and family life can be a challenging task, but it is essential to maintain a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. With the increasing demands of the modern world, it can be easy to get caught up in work and neglect the important relationships in our lives. However, by implementing these 12 key strategies, it is possible to find a good work-family balance.
1. Prioritize your time and stick to a routine.
One of the most critical aspects of balancing work and family is prioritizing your time. Evaluate the tasks and responsibilities in your work and home life, and identify the most essential ones. Work shouldn’t be consuming the top of your priority list. This will help you to focus on the things that matter most, reducing the stress and pressure that can come with trying to do too much.
A routine can be established to help you stick to your priorities. Get creative about how you fit your top three priorities into your daily routine. Maybe you always have breakfast at home with the family because it’s a great way to start the day and put the family first. Maybe you take advantage of quiet morning office hours to get a lot done so you can always leave the office at the same time. Maybe you have phone-free hours right when you get home to focus on the kids and chat with them about their day. In whichever way you split it up, make it a habit to bond with your family.
2. Communicate effectively.
When balancing work and family life, good communication is key. Be open and honest with your family about your work schedule, and let them know when you need to prioritize your work. On the other hand, make sure to keep your office informed about your family commitments and ask for their support when necessary. No one will know you’re struggling to fit it all in if you never say anything. Set expectations for people, so they know when you’ll be available for them.
Balancing work and family is not just about managing your time, but also about maintaining strong relationships. Make time to spend quality time with your partner and children, and engage in activities you all enjoy. Having a good open dialogue about life’s challenges can help the people nearest you understand what you’re dealing with and maybe come up with some short-term solutions.
3. Set boundaries.
It is also crucial to set boundaries between work and family time. Decide on specific times during the day when you will not be available for work-related activities, and stick to them. This will help you to give your full attention to your family, reducing stress and increasing the quality of your relationships. Avoid time traps like social media and television to ensure you have enough time for the most critical activities.
Calendar apps have time blocks that you can use that will show you as busy in case anyone tries to schedule a meeting. This allows you to set time aside to spend with your kids or work on a project with a deadline without distractions. Technology has made a lot of things easier, but one of those simpler areas is communication. People can reach you with a few taps of their fingers, so we are constantly interrupted and distracted. Setting blocks can allow you to protect your time and not be distracted by messages and calls.
4. Discuss flexibility with your employer.
Each company and occupation has different requirements for facing customers and collaborating with other team members. It might be worth exploring if you have a job that offers flexibility around working from home or a hybrid situation. Saving yourself the commute time and having a few days where you work independently, you’ll probably get more work done and have more time with your family.
It’s essential to be flexible and adapt to changes as they occur. This can involve adjusting your work schedule, delegating tasks to others, or being open to finding creative solutions to problems. Talk to your boss if you’ve never touched on this topic before and see what options you have to make your work schedule more flexible. Some companies even offer four 10-hour workdays instead of five. See what you can work out with your employer for a more productive schedule for everyone.
5. Practice self-care and be proactive.
Taking care of yourself is essential to maintaining a healthy balance between work and family. Set aside time for physical activity, such as exercise or meditation, and make sure to get enough sleep. Anytime you get sick, you’re forced to put everything else on hold while you allow your body to get better. You’ll have the energy to get you through your daily tasks by taking the proper steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes scheduling and attending all your preventive health appointments and being proactive about your health and wellness. Spend less time on it now instead of more when something goes wrong.
In addition to physical health, it’s also important to focus on mental health. Whether you find peace in the outdoors or you love spending a little time each week curled up with a new movie, it’s important to make time for yourself. Make time for hobbies and interests, which can help to reduce stress and increase happiness.
6. Seek support.
In any challenges life throws our way, it’s important to seek out support from others. This can come from your partner, friends, or family members. This doesn’t just mean communicating and venting to your closest people. It means listening to the suggestions they have to offer and accepting their help when it’s offered.
Having a support network can reduce stress and help you receive help when needed, making it easier to balance work and family life. This can include friends, family, neighbors, childcare providers, etc. Support can also come from professionals, like a therapist, who can help you manage moments of stress. It’s easy to get in a rut, and believe you need to power through your to-do list and avoid burdening others. Still, if you experience burnout, everything will get even more difficult to accomplish, and your quality of work will be lacking.
7. Add family life to your calendar.
Work calendars are easy to figure out. You check availability and send an invite for a meeting or a phone call. You except the others who were invited to show up ready to discuss a particular work project or topic. Try and utilize that same outlook on your family life. Block time off on your calendar and use it to go out for ice cream or watch a movie together. Have a few days each month when you put in long hours on family, just like you would at the office when working to meet a deadline.
Set aside a day at the beginning of each month where you review the family calendar and add important events as appointments in your work calendar. This will help you visualize what you want to attend and help you make a better plan to accomplish it. Add sports games, recitals, field trips, and even fun things, like National Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast day and half birthdays. By blocking the time off on the same calendar that you add work meetings, you’ll be able to ensure that you don’t have any conflicts, and if you do, you can make conscious decisions on how to adjust the schedule.
8. Lead by example.
The actions you take in your life rub off on those around you, even if you don’t think they are paying attention. If you want your children to value family time, then it’s important to prioritize it in your own life. Showing them that family is a priority will help instill these values in them, creating a supportive and loving environment for everyone.
Kids often understand way more than we give them credit for, and it has a huge impact on them when they are younger. You can talk to them about the importance of a career and work, so they know where you go during the day. It’s just important that you give them your full attention as much as possible and not constantly check your phone or interrupt them. When you are able to find balance, you are helping to set your children up for success in the future because they will have a strong role model.
9. Utilize all the tools and practice delegation.
In today’s atmosphere of having the world at your fingertips, it’s silly to overlook the services and technologies that can assist with some of your meaningless tasks. If you are struggling to find a balance between work and family life, consider offloading some of the things that take up your time that someone else could easily do for you.
One popular example is grocery shopping. You can make a grocery list online now and have someone else go to the store and shop for the items for you. An additional service fee covers the cost, but it frees up your time and energy. Meal delivery services are a great option as well. They ship all the ingredients to your home, so you and the family can work together prepping and cooking a meal without having to plan and shop. Boost your quality of life with just a bit of financial investment.
This principle also works at the office. If you are managing a team, consider what job duties you could pass on to one of your team members. They would be getting a new opportunity to learn and grow, and you will be helping their development while getting some of your own time back. Obviously, you cannot delegate your entire job, but there are probably at least two or three tasks that would be appropriate to hand off.
10. Enjoy a change of scenery.
Sometimes, when you’re facing a difficult situation, it’s best to take a step away and let your head clear. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, but getting a change of scenery for a day or a few will help you think more clearly. Consider setting up shop at a neighborhood coffee house or moving your desk to a new configuration. Take a walk somewhere new while listening to your favorite music, and just allow your brain to shift its perspective a bit.
This can help with overall stress, but it also helps you be a bit more creative in your problem-solving. Getting outside in nature and giving your eyes a break might help you come up with some new ideas to test out.
11. Find ways to add fun to chores and tasks.
Balancing work and family life involves a lot of juggling with to-do lists. Consider combining some of your chores and tasks with some fun family bonding time. For example, blast a playlist and involve the entire family if you need to clean the house. Dance around while checking chores off your list, and you can finish the housework while laughing and hanging out with the kids.
Fitness is another area where you can combine fun and necessities. Swap out a gym session for a hike with your partner or the whole family. Rent kayaks and explore waterways instead of meeting with your trainer. Get healthy while spending time with the people you love most. Maximize your time by crossing two things off simultaneously, and you’ll create new habits with your loved ones. Working parents have to get creative, but there are plenty of ways to do this.
12. Reduce your overall stress and cut out non-essentials.
A solution that works for so many struggles and issues we face every day is to reduce our overall stress levels. Stress actually makes things take longer and adds unnecessary time to your everyday tasks. If you constantly react and feel stressed, you’re probably working harder than you need to. Shift to a more proactive mindset and see if you can simplify your schedule and to-do list.
Another way to reduce stress is to reduce the items you have on your plate. We mentioned delegating tasks to others, but there might be some things you need to sacrifice now. For example, if you’ve joined a pick-up basketball team and you dread going every week because there are 100 other things you wish you could be doing, let it go. Unfortunately, we don’t have time for everything, so taking a minute to recognize and prioritize your activities and let one or two go will positively impact your overall ability to balance.
Closing Thoughts on Balancing Work and Family Life
In conclusion, balancing work and family life can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By prioritizing your time, setting boundaries, communicating effectively, practicing self-care, seeking support, being flexible, making time for your relationship, and leading by example, you can create a healthy balance that will benefit you and your family. Doing so can ensure that your work and family life are both fulfilling and enjoyable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Working mothers face more struggles with balancing work and family life. Statistically, they’re more likely to have higher stress levels while balancing other responsibilities.
Schedule quality time together as a family and prioritize it above other responsibilities. Pick up an Adventures from Scratch book that comes with 50 unique and memorable activities to get you started!